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Remember how I bitched about Beverly Havlir never updating her website? Well waddaya know, she has a book out today called Educating Emily. I was a little worried about the title because whenever I see the word ‘educating’, included in an erotic romance title, the theme is usually BDSM-centric, which just isn’t my cuppa. All that flogging and submissive bollocks gives me the heeby geebies. I’d rather poke myself in the eye with a hot fork methinks.

Anyway, I’m pleased to report that it’s not a BDSM book. Thank Oprah for that.

Here’s the blurb:

How to drive a man insane in bed.

That’s the subject of Emily Sinclair’s latest article for her online magazine. And she has just the guy in mind to teach her — Devlin McKay. After all, she’s fantasized about the hottie next door for years.

Devlin is shocked by Emily’s proposition, not to mention aroused. She’s definitely not a kid anymore, and she’s not just sexy — she’s irresistible. He agrees to be her sexual mentor, but he has a proposition of his own. When the lessons are over, they will each go their separate ways. He’s not in the market for a relationship.

One night in the classroom — well, bedroom — and Devlin is singing a different tune. Not only is Emily Sinclair all grown up, but she has a lot to teach him, too.

Yeah, the blurb needs work. If I’d happened upon this book without being familiar with the author’s writing, I’d have passed right over it, but whatever, it’s a Havlir baby!

Anyway, I’m off to buy and read!

Eve Vaughn’s Observations At The Gym…

Friday, February 29, 2008
Posted in: Uncategorized

Eve’s determined to get healthy this year, so she’s joined a gym. She shares  her hilarious observations on her blog. They made me laugh out loud. I particularly liked these two:

“I hate those super intense people in class who seem to get off from adding power to every kick and grunting like they’re having sex. It makes me want to punch you in the face, especially when I can barely breath and it feels like my lungs are about to explode. I hate you all.

And to the guy who was kicking really high in the red shorts, dude, invest in a jock strap. I saw your balls.”

Funny. As. F*ck.

Mrs G had an interesting post called The Great Porn and Erotica Divide on her blog yesterday.

Now I read it, and didn’t feel that she was bashing Phaze, and the first few comments from some of the Phaze authors (for some reason I keep wanting to write ‘Litrats’, but I’m not sure why, I guess I must have read it somewhere) were fairly reasonable, and well thought out.

But as you know, there’s always one person who comes in and ruins the good work of his/her colleagues/peers. This time it was Daniel J. Reitz Snr, owner of Mundania Press and Phaze:

As owner of Mundania Press and Phaze Books, I can assure you that neither I, nor Phaze Books, has any connection with Literotica, now or in the past. At no time does this group enter into our picture. To be honest, prior to your labeling Phaze as connected to it, or part of it, or derived from it, I have never even heard of this group. {K: Really? Well at least one of the authors there is quite vocal about her association with Lit. By the way, that link features a woman with a finger stuck up her anus, so you probably don’t want to click on it… or maybe you do, who knows?} It has never been discussed on Phaze forums and lists, and has no influence over us at all……

I am beginning to question your motives for againing singuling out Phaze to show us in a bad light, while blatantly ignoring the dozens and dozens of other erotic romance publishers that publish similar books. Please do us, your readers, and yourself a favor and cease painting Phaze Books as some supposed spin-off of some other erotic group out there in the world. It does everyone involved an injustice and is simply not true. Thank you.

When I read Mrs G’s post, my take on it was that she was wondering how authors who write ‘traditional’ (hehe) erotic romance, and those who write for places like Literotica and who are quite open about their somewhat unorthodox sexual lifestyles, will get on in the future, seeing as some of the Lit Authors are being published by mainstream houses, like Harlequin, etc.

By the looks of things, somebody told Daniel J Reitz Snr that Mrs G was bashing Phaze again, so he came in with his size twelves, having not read the post properly. You’d think the beginning of Mrs Giggles’ post would have given him a clue:

Let me begin by clarifying to the usual oversensitive suspects at Literotica – whom I know are reading this blog despite their public declarations to the contrary – that this is not an attack on their sensibilities, moral, past lives, lifestyles, choices, lingerie, diet, or anything even remotely related to their selves. Got that?

Anyway, Mrs G followed it up with this post, and of course at least one of the usual suspects came out to play, as well as Daniel J. Reitz posing as a sock puppet and posting under ‘Anonymous’. Unluckily for him, Mrs G responded to this:

“I find it amusing when bloggers post stuff slamming people, then get all confused when people get upset with them.”

With this:

“To the Anonymous above, given that you have exactly the same IP number as Danny Boy (24.29.27.134), maybe you should just quit while you are ahead. You’re really doing Phaze no favors.”

Oh well, it amused me for at least ten minutes. What would life be without a kooky Phaze author or two eh?  Shoot, even the owner is a bit ‘special’.

No, that title isn’t actually as tongue-in-cheek as it may seem.

Janine at Dear Author has a great post, a confession of sorts, up at Dear Author, where she outs herself as an aspiring author.

The post itself wasn’t what I wanted to address. What I want to address is the myth that Romanceland is full of Snarky Reviewers. No. It’s. Not.

It was this comment that caught my eye:

I don’t think there is a backlash per se, at least no yet, but more voices are being raised against reviewers that trash books, irrespective of who the reviewer is (author, reader, etc.). Fact is that quite a bit of snarky reviews out there have gone way overboard.

The subject of reviewing has been discussed a thousand times around these parts, a million times even, and every time we have one of these discussion, the subject of Snarky Reviewers are brought up, as if Romland is full to the brim with them. It. Is. Not.

When I think of ‘Snarky Reviewers, I think of Mrs Giggles, The SBs and possibly me, But beyond that, I start to scratch my head. Amazon reviewers? Do they really count?

Just like the supposed legions of Mean Girl Bloggers that parade around Blogland, I suspect that Snarky Reviewers are becoming a bit of an urban myth. Everybody talks about them, as if they are all over Romanceland, when in actual fact they aren’t.

TTG and I had this discussion the other night, following the conviction of a man who’d murdered a teenage girl over here. Apparently, he’d lived in Australia in the 1990’s, and had convictions for sex offences. His DNA had been taken over there, following the convictions, but because there isn’t an international DNA database, he wasn’t initially linked to the murder.

TTG and I discussed the pros and cons of having DNA put on public record at birth, and I have to say, I’m definitely more for it than against. There’s obviously the civil liberties, and human rights arguments, but I’m of the mind that if you live your life right, then you shouldn’t have anything to fear.

What say you?

And here I am again! (until Karen comes back to her senses {K:ain’t gonna happen}), to share a review. This one is not a romance book (hey, I occasionally do read other stuff. Yes I do, here’s proof, see?

The Man with a Load of Mischief, by Martha Grimes

This is the first book in the successful Richard Jury mysteries series. The back blurb reads:

At the Man with a Load of Mischief, they found a dead man with his head stuck in a beer keg. At the Jack and Hammer, another body was stuck out on the beam of the pub’s sign, replacing the mechanical man who kept the time. Two pubs. Two murders. One Scotland Yard inspector called in to help.

Detective Chief Inspector Richard Jury arrives in Long Piddleton and finds everyone in the postcard village looking outside of town for the killer. Except for Melrose Plant. A keen observer of human nature, he points Jury in the right direction: towards the darkest parts of his neighbors’ hearts…”

The Man with a Load of Mischief is one of the so-called ‘cozy mysteries.’ Whatever murder or mayhem occurs during the story, it is never on stage but rather behind a curtain. The ripples from these events are felt and seen as the story unfolds, but there’s no gore, and the author doesn’t linger on the brutal or the cruel. That is not her purpose. Indeed, it would seem that her objective is to engage the reader to race Jury and Plant to answer the questions posed by the plot, in the manner of Ellery Queen or Dame Christie.

Even though this is Ms Grimes first book, it is a very engrossing read with very few awkward spots. In fact, I didn’t really notice the few things I have quibbles with on the first pass, because the prose flows so beautifully that one can easily read through to the last page in one sitting without consciously deciding to do so.

While the pace of the book never seems rushed, the reader meets quite a good many people, and things seem to happen one on top of each other, as all the events in the book take place in barely ten days. Most of the characters tend to evoke strong reactions—either positive or negative. On a second reading, some of these characters can become slightly less real, not as well developed, their characterization not as polished. More caricature than people, if you will. And yet, they still evoke the same strong reaction in the reader as they did upon meeting them.

As for my quibbles…

One of them is the presence of a few passages, beautifully and evocatively written, that do absolutely nothing for either the plot or the character development. Mercifully, these are neither long nor many, but other than showcasing Ms Grimes mastery of the language, they are completely extraneous and unnecessary.

Another one is the time and space devoted to the introduction of a few minor characters whose only purpose—in this book at least—seems to be to set up the two main characters. This in itself is an excellent device, as it shows the readers who these two are, instead of telling them. On the second reading, though, I realize that these minor characters are a little too well developed themselves for the role they actually play in this book. It is as if Ms Grimes had several other books already in mind, and decided to introduce these characters ahead of time. Which is all good and well for readers going on to read the next book or books in the series, but otherwise it clutters this story.

All in all, a very enjoyable introduction to a new-to-me writer. Now I have some twenty other books to look forward to!

9 out of 10

…Please update your website. You’re one of only a handful of Elloras Cave writers that I still read, and like, so I would be grateful if you could let me know what you are up to.

Whilst you’re at it, can you possibly try and avoid writing for Changeling Press FREE PUBLICITY! FREE PUBLICITY! FREE PUBLICITY! in the future? It’s not because their books suck or anything (well, not all of them I’m sure), and it’s not due to the fact that their covers make my eyes bleed either. The thing is, I don’t buy from them anymore, at least not since the owner came on here and lost her damn mind. So if you release any books with them, I wont be able to purchase, and that would make me sad.

You understand my dilemma don’t you?

You can blame Gisele Bundchen if you like, that bitch totally gets around.

((((Hugs and flowery kisses)))))

Yours sincerely,

Karen Scott
Age 32 years and 11 months.

What. The. Fuck?

A 16-year-old girl has given birth to triplets for the second time in a case which has stunned doctors and caused outrage in Argentina.

The girl, named only as Pamela, had a second set of female triplets earlier this month after giving birth to her first set at the age of 15 in July 2006. She had her first child, a boy, when she was just 14.

All seven children were born prematurely but without any kind of fertility treatment. While doctors say the three newborns and their mother are well, the case has sparked debate across Argentina.

The girl is sixteen and she already has seven children? Whatever happened to sex education? Or The Pill, even?

I can’t even blame Gisele Bundchen for this. Dammit.

From Heroine To Idiot In Ten Short Pages…

Sunday, February 24, 2008
Posted in: Uncategorized

Dear Author

What’s the point of writing a kick-ass, gun-toting, bad-ass heroine, only to have her turn into a stupid-assed, snivelling jelly tot who has to be rescued by the hero?

Yours sincerely

Karen Scott

Are All Romance Ebooks on crack?

And you know which of her books won? The twincest one.

I mean seriously?

All I can say is, if All Romance Ebooks wanted to be taken seriously, they just took a long-assed detour. Any website where Carol Lynne is heralded as one of the best e-book authors of the year, deserves to have the piss taken out of them.

Thanks to you-know-who for the link.

Nora Roberts’ Hotel Destroyed By Fire…

Friday, February 22, 2008
Posted in: Uncategorized
Tags:

According to The Herald Mail:

BOONSBORO — Today’s early-morning fire on the square in downtown Boonsboro started in the historic Boone Hotel, owned by romance novelist Nora Roberts, and has affected seven buildings, a fire official said.

Jason Mowbray, a deputy chief state fire marshal, estimated damage to the North Main Street block at $1.5 million to $2 million.

In addition to the Boone Hotel at 1 N. Main St., other buildings affected by the fire were at 9, 11 and 13 N. Main St., fire officials said.

The Boone Hotel and structures at 5 N. Main St. and 7 N. Main St. were destroyed, officials said. All that remains standing of the hotel are four walls.

How awful.

My condolences to Nora and all the people affected by the fire.

Thanks to AztecLady for the tip-off.

Is Silk’s Vault No More?

Friday, February 22, 2008
Posted in: Epublishers, Silk's Vault

I received an e-mail earlier asking me if Silk’s Vault had closed. I have no idea. All I know is, their site seems to have gone kaput.

A few months ago, Jane reported that Camille Anthony, an e-published author, had gone public regarding her lack of royalty payments from Silk’s Vault.

From that point, I can’t actually remember whether they actually died a death or not.

Anybody know? Or indeed care?

Well, I’ll repeat my comment at DA at the time:

My advice to any Silk’s authors out there is PULL YOUR BOOKS ASAP. There’s evidence of dishonesty already, so this ship is probably getting ready to sink. The warnings are loud and clear, and any author who stays with them out of fear, will only have themselves to blame when things go tits up, and the owner starts going batshit crazy. Mardi Gras Publishing anybody?

The website going kaput may be just a technical glitch, but I still think this is pretty good advice.

Contest, Promotion, Class…

Friday, February 22, 2008
Posted in: Azteclady Speaks

Not too long ago, an author asked what readers liked about contests. Scavenger hunts? quizzes? random draw? etc. And, are contests a good idea, or are readers bored of them?

There were, as you can expect, as many different favorites as responses to the question. The common thread, though, is that readers like contests—and the prizes that go with them. From the responses, and as a reader myself, free books and gift certificates are the clear winners. A well thought out and strategically advertised contest will draw readers, and even if only one or two win something, the rest would have talked about it to friends, sent the link to the author’s blog/website, mentioned the book(s)—and created buzz.

And really, word of mouth is not only the cheapest promotion tool, but also one of the most effective ones.

A couple of very smart authors (full disclosure: they’ve both given yours truly ARCs of upcoming releases) ask winners to review the book somewhere (their own blog, a friends’, a message board, somewhere). Both of them ask specifically for an honest review—no gushing if the reader doesn’t think the book deserves it. From where I sit, that’s a very savvy way to handle it. It lets the reader off the hook in one way but, by implying trust, also ensures the reader feels honor bound to do her/his best to fulfill these requirements.

So, yeah, by and large, contests are a good idea.

Unless they backfire, of course. And here we get to the flip side, albeit in a roundabout way (I’m constitutionally incapable of brevity, in case you hadn’t noticed yet).

This February I have been really weirdly lucky, vis-à-vis blog contests. Really, a total embarrassment of riches. (No, I’m not going to tell you how many books I’m getting—suffice it to say, I’ve been rendered speechless twice. Well, mostly speechless.) After the third prize, I started saying how amazed I am about it, because hey! win nothing for a few decades, then suddenly a flood.

And then I remembered that I lied.

Yes, shocking, I know. So I’m here to publicly admit that I’ve lied *hanging head in shame*

I had won something before. Around these days last year, at Paperback Writer blog, I won a couple of Alison Kent’s books. I was amazed that one could get free books simply by reading blogs and commenting—yes, I’m that innocent—and so I started paying more attention, going around to more blogs, entering more contests. And lo and behold! within a month or so I had won two more books at two different blogs.

Yay!!! Joy!!! *happy dancing*

Right?

Well, actually, no.

‘Cause I never got those last two books. Never. I didn’t hear back from the authors at all. Zilch. Nada. Niente. Nichts. Nuthin’.

After a couple of emails, I stopped asking. It felt too much like begging for a freebie, you know? And I realize that authors—particularly midlist or newbie authors—don’t have all that much money to devote to promotion, so perhaps they ran out of author copies. I also realize that many have day jobs that actually pay the bills. And families. And hopefully a life. And things happen. So I let it go.

A brief email explaining the circumstances would have left me happy—I know that I’m not entitled to those books, they would have been gifts, and I certainly hope I would have been mature and gracious enough to accept and understand any explanation or reason given. But I have to say, the deafening silence? It left a bit of a bitter taste in my mouth.

Which is, I think, why I had pretty much forgotten that I had ever won anything, you know? Better not to think about the negative, if at all possible.

Another aspect of the contest thing that bothers me is when a contest is announced with a big fanfare. People come from all places to participate. Temporary increase in blog traffic, lots of comments, and it’s a given that some of those drive-by readers will become regulars. All good.

And then, the big day! Everybody stops by, on tenterhooks, hopeful, excited, willing to be happy for whoever wins if it’s not him/herself.

Only, no announcement.

A new post comes up. Other conversations start and die. Then days become weeks, and still, nothing.

Huh?

I mean, honestly, I do understand that bloggers really have no obligation to offer prizes to their readers, but once they have done so, it’s only good manners to follow through, wouldn’t you agree?

And it’s much better PR for both blogger and author to follow through than not to. And, if life happens and the prize can’t be delivered for whatever circumstance, transparency would be a much better choice—no matter how hard to admit to whatever it is—than silence.

The former will earn sympathy and respect, while the second will either make the reader resentful, or make sure she forgets the author’s/blogger’s name pretty much permanently.

(Yeah, don’t ask me whose authors’ books I never got, ‘cause for the life of me I can’t tell you.)

Post By: AztecLady

The Death Penalty, Yay Or Nay?

Thursday, February 21, 2008
Posted in: Uncategorized

I’m a death penalty advocate. I am.

I’ve heard all the arguments against, but I just can’t help but think that some people should just be done away with.

Today, a man who was accused of killing five prostitutes, in December 2006, was found guilty on all counts:

A forklift truck driver has been convicted over the murder of five women in Ipswich.

Steve Wright was accused of strangling five prostitutes and then disposing of their bodies in the town’s outskirts.

The naked bodies of Tania Nicol, Gemma Adams, Anneli Alderton, Annette Nicholls and Paula Clennell were discovered over just 10 days.
On December 2, fisheries worker Trevor Saunders stumbled upon the body of 25-year-old Gemma Adams in a brook in Hintlesham.

“There was nothing odd about the body other than it was stripped. I noticed the hair, the earring and blood coming out of her nose.”

But Wright’s first victim was 19-year-old Tania Nichol, discovered in the same brook as Gemma, but in Copdock on December 8.

Over the next four days, police discovered three more bodies – Anneli Alderton and mothers Annette Nicholls and Paula Clennell.

Three months pregnant, Anneli had been strangled, her body placed in the shape of a crucifix. Annette too was found with arms outstretched in the shape of a cross.

Wright denied the murders, but couldn’t explain why the DNA of all five of the prostitutes were found on his person:

Wright’s DNA, which had been placed on a database after an earlier conviction for theft, matched that found on three women. Blood from his final two victims was found on Wright’s reflective jacket. Fibres from his clothes, car and furniture were found on all five victims.

Wright told the court it was a coincidence that he sought the services of all the women in the order they disappeared, around the very night each vanished. That, argued Wright’s defence team, didn’t make him a killer.

The jury of nine men and three women disagreed.

With the overwhelming evidence, I’d say string the bastard up. What good is he alive?

It makes me so mad to think that he killed those women, but yet, he’ll get to live the rest of  his life in relative luxury. (The longer they serve here, the easier things are in prison).

I know that miscarriages of justice do happen, but there are some instances where there can be no doubt of guilt.

The other day I heard that a man had been convicted of raping and murdering his 7 week old baby. I can’t imagine what good such a man is alive. Anybody who can do that to a child, is truly beyond redemption, and deserves to die a really horrible painful death.

And no, I don’t believe that a life for a life makes us as bad as the perpetrators. I simply don’t.

And I’m baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack!!!

Karen, being both generous and clearly insane, has offered to continue hosting reviews by yours truly. {K: Hey, it saves me a job!} This one is an old book, but one that has a place of honor in my shelves and my heart. (The review is also posted here).

Silver Lining, by Maggie OsborneSilver Lining

Breaking with custom, I am not going to quote the back cover copy, because it misleads the reader into thinking that this is yet another syrupy and poorly written *gasp* romance novel *shudder* The horror!

I much prefer quoting this book description from Amazon:

When a group of grateful prospectors offers to give fellow prospector Low Down her “fondest wish” in return for her nursing them through a smallpox epidemic, they are stunned when she says she wants a baby. What she gets, however, is a husband she doesn’t want, a husband who doesn’t want her, and a family—and eventually a love—she never even dreamed of. Funny and touching, this riveting romance, in classic Osborne fashion, takes an outwardly independent but inwardly fragile heroine, pairs her with a hero smart enough to realize her worth, and lets them find each other despite a host of almost insurmountable obstacles. (more…)

Once again, Karen has graciously offered to host a review from me. This time, I’ve chosen a book that I was planning on getting because of Karen’s review (how’s that for karma?), but that I got as a prize at the wonderful Shiloh Walker’s blog.

I have already read a couple of Ms Walker’s Hunters books (I really like Hunter’s Salvation, by the way), but this is a completely different animal for me.

Beautiful Girl, by Shiloh Walker.

This is an adult contemporary romance published in ebook format by Samhain Publishing, with the following warning: This title contains the following: explicit sex, graphic language and violence.

The blurb:

Sometimes getting to heaven requires a trip through hell.

Twelve years ago, it looked like Del Prescott had it all. The wealthy family, the car, the looks and charm, and the perfect boyfriend. Then, mysteriously, she disappeared to “study abroad.” Now she’s back, and it’s not merely to attend a high school reunion. She’s here to face her demons—and Blake, the man she has never stopped loving.

Blake Mitchell is a changed man, thanks to surviving twelve long years of difficulties that began after Del dropped out of his life. Now she’s back, and she’s nothing like the polished, stylish world traveler he imagined she’d be. There’s a darkness about her, and a grim expression in her eyes that says she’s prepared for fight or flight.

Blake’s concern for her breaks down the walls Del has built around her heart and she finally begins to heal from the abuse she suffered at the hands of her own family. But the betrayal goes deeper than either of them ever imagined—and it’s about to come back to haunt them.

Where to begin? With a caveat. For this reader, longer tends to be better in terms of character and plot development. At some 150 pages, this book is more a long novella than a full length single title novel, and that tends to weigh against the story in my eyes. So please keep that in mind as you read on.

The first couple of paragraphs set the story up beautifully:

Coming home was both heaven and hell. Delilah Prescott pulled her beat up Corolla off the two lane highway, right in front of the welcome sign. Welcome to Prescott, Tennessee—Small Town, Big Heart. Located in the mostly rural county of Pike near the Tennessee/Kentucky border, the town’s main claim to fame was that Daniel Boone had spent some time in the general area.

It was a nice little town, though. Just about everybody knew each other and even strangers were made to feel welcome. Lots of strangers, especially on weekends and in the summer. Just south of Lake Cumberland, Prescott was a stopping point, watering hole and overnight lodging for all the families that flocked to the lake that didn’t want to say at the campground but didn’t have the money for the rental cabins.

The lake was a popular vacation spot during the hot months of July and August. Over the past twenty years or so, Prescott had become something of an antique mecca. The result was tourism coming through the small town on a regular basis. Small shops lined Main Street and from what she could tell, some of the retail prosperity had spread out past the immediate area of downtown.

She saw what looked like a for real steakhouse. Not just the diner or Lula’s Café. A real restaurant, complete with neon sign. She wondered what else had changed in the past twelve years.

Besides her, of course.

The character development in this story is actually very, very good, and more so given the total length of the book. The two main characters are well drawn, with enough weaknesses to make them likable, and enough virtues to make them believable as hero and heroine in their own story.

Blake has survived an aggressive and advanced cancer, and in surviving has grown up enough to let go of his adolescent resentment over Delilah’s vanishing act. This alone separates this story from so many other romances where adolescent tantrums tend to stand as shorthand for “tortured hero dealing with emotional wounds from a past love.” As an adult, Blake is able to separate his memories of Delilah, and his expectations of her, from the person she is when they meet again.

Delilah (“I go by Del now”), on the other hand, is still working to overcome the chain of events that completely derailed her life (the abuse mentioned in the blurb). Her reactions to facing both her family (as antagonists), and Blake and her friends (as emotional support), read very real to me.

There are also two secondary characters that are deftly brought to life, even though each has barely two scenes and ten lines of dialogue throughout the story.

The problems in the story come from the villains—Del’s mother and stepfather—who come across rather two dimensional (the mother is sooooo evil she makes Cruella DeVil look cuddly) and from a final confrontation that feels too rushed, and more than a bit contrived. It feels to me as if the author had a longer book mapped out, and suddenly ran out of pages, therefore having to cram too many different plot twists in the last fourth of the book.

In most cases, a rushed or unbelievable ending will make me scratch my head and forget the book. In this case, I can’t. More, I don’t want to. I want to think that both Blake and Del will indeed succeed in forging a strong and long lasting relationship. I’m rooting for them. Further, I’m looking forward to more and better from this writer.

On a scale of one to ten, Beautiful Girl gets a 7.5 from me.

Could This Be, The Worst Website Ever?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Posted in: where are they now?

Just recently, I was wondering what ex-category romance author, Elise Title, was doing these days, so I googled her.

Title used to write category books way back in the eighties (I knwo, I read ’em) and according to her bio, she’s the author of well over 50 books.

So, why doesn’t her website reflect this? You’d think she’d want to at least put up a backlist of all her books. But no. One can’t help but wonder why she hasn’t put up at least some of them, if not all.

There are no excerpts, which is annoying enough on its own, but she has links to three pages, and none of them, except the ‘About’ page, tells you much.

Talk about keeping it brief.

Any Advice For A Thirty Year Old Male Virgin?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Posted in: Uncategorized

A anonymous poster, wants to know how he can go about losing his virginity before he hits his thirtieth birthday:

I am a male virgin who turns 30 this summer. This bothers me a lot, not only because it makes me feel “nervous” around women (I AM attracted to them), but mainly because I find it hard to approach women I genuinely do like and would like to get to know better. I didn`t think much about it when I was younger as I was an “emotional” guy, but now I just wish I`d gotten it over it, instead of it being a major problem for me today.

I need to try to do something with this issue, because it makes me real unhappy and I don`t see it changing any time soon if I don`t address my “problem”. Happy for any advice, especially from females.

Poor thing.  Any advice ladies? Or men even?

Dear Samuel Konan Age 22 Years Old…

Monday, February 18, 2008
Posted in: Spam e-mail

Please look away now, if the liberal use of the ‘f’ word offends you.

Dearest one,

Who the fuck are you calling dearest one, you don’t fucking know me.

With no intention to offend you I pleed with you to please assist me in this problem of mine which i will need your help, however is not mandatory nor will I in any manner compel you to honour it against your wish. I am Samuel Konan, 22 years old and the only son of my late parents Mr. and Mrs. Melije KONAN.

Are they dead, or did you fucking kill them you lazy, lying, conniving piece of shit?

My father was a highly reputable business man (dealing in film materials)he operated in the capital city of Mali during his days.

I doubt your father was a highly reputable anything, in fact, I doubt you know who your father is, you mother-fucking scumbag.

My fathers died mysteriously in belgium during one of his business trips abroad on octtober 14/2006.

Don’t pretend you even know who your father was, you weren’t born, you were an amoeba that happened to find a breathing vessel to cling to, you fucking pond scum.

Though his sudden death was linked or rather suspected to have been masterminded by an uncle of his who travelled with him at that time. But God knows the truth!

You are such a lying piece of shit, what do you know about truth, you spend your life trying to scam innocent people of their money, why the fuck don’t you just get a proper job like everyone else?

My mother died when I was just 4 years old on child birth according to what my father told me,

If I was your mother, I’d want to die too, you robbing greasy snake bastard, piece of crap.

The time for her delivery was complete and the doctor did not know because according to my father the doctor told them that my mother was not going through labour according to his own prediction my mother had about one month more to deliver.

If there was any truth to this, the tragedy would have been that you lived, and she died, you fucked up twat.

So before they realise she was on labour, it has taken about two days and she became very weak and could not make it during child delivery.Since then my father took me so special.

You lying, gonorrhea-infested, wanker.

After the funeral ceremoney of my late father,I noticed from his file in his private room some documents which shows that he had Deposited the sum of four million Two hundred and thirty thousand United State Dollars.(USD$4.230,000) with a bank here which I have verified and they confirm the existance of the fund.

Liar, liar, your pants are on fire! You don’t have a fucking bean, because, if you did, you wouldn’t have sent me this fake-assed e-mail. You’d be in Honolulu butt-fucking the locals instead.

Finally, they propossed that the fund has be to transfer to a foreign bank account acording to the agreement with my father.Upon this informatioin given to me by the bank i decided to contact you to help me recieve this money in your bank account.

You are such a fucking liar, you decided to contact me, because you want to defraud me of my hard-earned cash. You’re hoping that I’m as stupid as you sound. Well, unfortunately for you, you fucking stupid robbing lying scumbag bastard, I’m not.

But please i want to beg you by the almighty God to be faithull to me. And tell me if you will not, because of my age cheat on me. I will like to come over to your country and finish my school and settle down for life.

I’ve got a good place you can settle down for life. Oh yes, Her Majesty would only be too pleased to keep you settled for life at her pleasure, you fucking ejit.

If you like we can as well go into a joint business of any type in your country. So if this mail is acceptable to you i will like you to confirm by sending to me the information’s bellow :
*Full Names.:
* Nationality.:
* Occupation.:
* Address.:
* Phone No.:

In your fucking dreams. You are a fucktard of the highest order. Calling you pondlife, would be doing a disservice to the noble creepy crawlies that inhabit ponds.

Thank you very much and may the almighty God continue to protect you
and your family.
regards
Samuel Konan.

And hopefully lightening will strike you down and kill your lying arse, you fucking c*nt.

Yours sincerely,

Karen Scott

Our gracious hostess, Karen, has offered to host my review of Ann Aguirre’s Grimspace which will be released on Feb 26th by Ace. I was lucky to win an ARC and read it before the general public and, people, I love it! Love it, love it, love it!

So without further ado, here it is:

Grimspace, by Ann Aguirre

This science fiction/fantasy/adventure/romance novel is Ann Aguirre’s print debut. However, she already has four titles published electronically under her Annie Dean pseudonym.

From the back cover:

By all accounts, Sirantha Jax should have burned out years ago…

As the carrier of a rare gene, Jax has the ability to jump ships through Grimspace—a talent which cuts into her life expectancy, but makes her a highly prized navigator for the Corp. But then the ship she’s navigating crash-lands, and she’s accused of killing everyone on board. It’s hard for Jax to defend herself: she has no memory of the crash.

Now imprisoned and the subject of a ruthless interrogation, Jax is on the verge of madness. Then a mysterious man breaks into her cell, offering her freedom—for a price. March needs Jax to help his small band of rogue fighters break the Corp monopoly on interstellar travel—and establish a new breed of jumper.

Jax is only good at one thing—Grimspace—and it will eventually kill her. So she may as well have some fun in the meantime…

To start this review I have to offer a caveat. This book is written in first person point of view and in present tense. In a lifetime of reading voraciously, I can count with one hand the number of books narrated in first person that I’ve liked—with fingers left over. And the idea of present tense throughout the full 300+ pages? Ack!

I kept thinking it was going to be nigh impossible for me to finish the book, let alone like it.

Then I read an excerpt, and was intrigued. I told myself, “This doesn’t seem too annoying (which has been my chief complaint on first person narrative), it shouldn’t be too hard to give it a fair try.”

And then I got the book, and we were off to the races. I read this book in one sitting, while suffering the mother of all headaches; that’s just how gripping the story is. Of course, I had to read it again once I felt better—I had to make sure it wasn’t painkiller induced hallucination, you know. And I’m very very happy to say it wasn’t. This book rocks.

Fans of Firefly and Serenity will find a few familiar plot devices: a ragtag crew traveling in a rundown spaceship, trying to outrun the bad guys to do some good. The gifted girl, the heroic captain, the talented medic, heck! there’s even the intrepid female ship mechanic! There’s a conspiracy and pretty much nothing is what it seems. There are narrow escapes, and life and death situations.

It’s not the novelty that grabs you when reading this book (after all, it’s not as if Joss Whedon, as much as I love him, had come up with any of these himself). It’s the execution. The plotting, the pacing, the characterizations, the world building—they are all first rate, and all come together to create a compelling story that grabs you from the beginning and doesn’t let you go until the very last word. And even then, you want more.

The main characters are extremely well realized.

Jax is not the most likable person you’ve ever met, but she is a real person. More, she is self aware enough to allow the reader to follow her growth through the book without annoying the ever loving daylights out of you. When we meet her, her world (in the sense of awareness of things and people around her) is so very small that she doesn’t even realize how skewed her perspective is. As a result of this emotional isolation, her initial interactions with March and his crew are more than a bit antagonistic in nature.

Her reactions and rationalizations during and after various do-or-die episodes ring true to the end—there is no magic change from flawed to perfect, but rather as the story unfolds, there’s a series of changes and self-discoveries leading to a better self. Jax is still Jax, to the last page. She’s only a more mature woman. It is particularly interesting to see, through her own eyes, how her perspective on her circumstances, her life, and those around her, change as events unfold. Even more interesting is to see her react without thinking in ways that, occasionally, contradict who she has always believed herself to be.

March, the captain (and eventually her love interest) is complex in a way that few heroes are, with both a unique gift and a dark past which color who he is and what he does. His sense of honor and his ultimate goal are, again, not standard hero issue, and his is no selfless “let’s save the universe and improve the quality of life for every poor sod alive, out of the goodness of our hearts!” mission. He is in this for his own reasons, which he doesn’t feel the need to advertise. As far as he’s concerned, any general good to come out of it is a nice side benefit but most definitely not a requirement. All of this doesn’t make him any less likable or appealing, but it humanizes him for the reader.

As far as the secondary characters (Dina, Saul, Loras, Mair, Adele, Velith, etc) are concerned, Aguirre brings them to life for the reader with a few broad strokes, and lets their successive interactions with Jax fill in the details. Perhaps the most surprising of these is Velith—bounty hunter and antagonist, and quite the surprising character, to say the least.

The world building is careful and consistent—which is extremely important for this reader. Nothing will yank me out of a story faster than an author who writes him/herself into a corner and then pulls a Deus Ex Machina to solve the situation. Instead, Aguirre uses the rules she’s set up, both as part of the crisis and the solutions. The dangers are real, and survival is by no means guaranteed. The science is neither explained to within an inch of its metaphoric life, nor is it left vague enough as to qualify as magic.

Through out the novel, the reader knows only what Jax knows. We see the action and her world through her eyes. For this reason, there are several important facets of the universe that turn out to be different than what she originally thought they were. This change in perspective also changes the stakes for her, and for the reader.

This one is a solid 8.5 for me.

If you are still not sure, go read the excerpt here. I promise you’ll be hooked. And the best news is that there’s already a sequel—Wanderlust, coming out in September *happy dance*